Just wanted to let fellow paddlers know,we lost a remarkable women last week...Deb took me down Purdons to bridgeport on the south yuba in Cali last year along with my other buddy Lillian and Gordon...Her spirit and energy was amazing and she made a huge impact on me in a short time...I will never forget this women running class 5+,looking back at me when I saw a huge horizon line with nothing but a roar and mist everywhere,putting her nose plugs on,smiling and saying follow me!She was a remarkable paddler and person,that you could'nt help but feel privledged to be on the water with...When she handed me her number,she said anytime you want to paddle call me,Debby Doom!
This is a post of a witness account of what happened off of boof.com
RIP Deb and let some of your other paddling friends run some drops first up there....
Deb Martin was pinned and drowned in the final rapid, 150 yards from the reservoir. The final rapid is known for very sticky holes, downed trees, sieves and undercuts. Deb said that there was a safe line on the far right. Deb also said that if you were tired or not 100%, there was a portage trail on the left.
As we entered the rapid, one member of our party fell into a very sticky hole and was getting sidesurfed badly. The rest of us were all in an eddy below on river left and two guys immediately jumped out of their boats with throw ropes and ran upstream, while Deb and I stayed in our boats. The person getting surfed finally flushed out upside-down but was too exhausted to roll and exited his boat.
As he swam by, Deb immediately peeled out after him. Luckily, he managed to swim into a safe eddy by himself on river right and I ferried over and eddied out right next to him. I got out of my boat to make sure he was okay. During this time all of our attention was focused on him. As soon as I motioned to the guys on the other side of the river that he was okay, they motioned back, "could I see Deb?". Deb was such a great paddler, always able to handle herself in any situation, I just assumed that she was in an eddy down below, but as I scanned the river there was no sign of her. We immediately started working down both sides of the river looking for her.
I got back in my boat and eventually got down to the reservoir and there was no sign of her there. All of a sudden I spotted her paddle floating in the reservoir. I sprinted for the bank, grabbed my rescue gear and starting running upstream blowing my whistle. By this time it easily must have been 15 minutes since the swim.
Another group that was behind us on the river had just caught up now and we all began to search. We soon found her boat, it was pinned, bow pointed downstream and upside-down in a narrow slot along the left bank. We can only speculate on what happened since we had focused all of our attention on the swimmer and didn't keep an eye on her. My guess is that as she ferried out after the swimmer, she got swept over a pourover immediately downstream and flipped and as she set up to roll she got pushed into the slot upside-down.
You could just barely see a spot of her yellow boat about a foot under the water. The force of the water so powerful, it was all we could do to reach down and clip the grab loop. We tried a Z-drag and couldn't budge the boat. We clipped onto a rescue bar behind the cockpit and tried pulling from other directions still couldn't move the boat.
At some point one of the guys noticed that one of the ropes had flushed under the boat and snagged her arm. We were able to reach down and get a sling around her wrist and pull her arm up a little and then another guy was able to reach in and clip a line onto her lifejacket. We put a Z-drag on that line and we were able to free her body. It took over an hour to get her out from the time when we first spotted the boat.
Anyone who paddled with Deb will always remember her smile and how she could make us all laugh at an instant. Deb was an incredible person and a great paddler. In that split second that she saw a fellow paddler in trouble, she did not hesitate to go out after him. Yes, there are lessons we can learn from this tragedy, but in the end we can not assign blame or feel guilt.